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Let’s all gather ‘round the campfire, Buckaroos and let Ol’ Cactus Jim here tell you about some of today’s hardy, hard-working cowboys. Yes, those manly men who live free-spirited, yippy-ti-yi-yo, cowboy lives out in the rustic ranch country of the Rocky Mountain West.
Oh, wait – that was a century ago. The “cowboys” who’re now humming “Home On The Range” across Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming are multimillionaire and billionaire corporate titan and celebrities like Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, and Bruce Willis. They don’t really live there nor mix with locals, no do they actually “ranch” their spectacular 300,000-acre spreads, since they don’t know how.
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So they hire real ranching outfits to bring in some cattle, sheep, and other ranching accruements, then they fly in on private jets occasionally and strut around like John Wayne. They are in a word, pathetic.
But they surely are land barons, spending up to $200 million each for their vast spreads. Indeed, these dilettantes rule the availability of ranchland and scenic wilderness, pricing out people who really want to ranch and locking out families who want to experience some of nature’s most majestic rivers and mountains. Fifteen years ago, the biggest private landowners held 27 million acres; now they’ve grabbed 42 million acres for themselves.
Well, say apologists for wealth concentration, they bought the land with their money, so it’s fair and square. But hold on slick. They don’t come just for the views, hunting, and exclusivity – their ranches get generous land subsidies, plus, states like Wyoming provide no-tax hideaways for their wealth.
This is Jim Hightower saying… So, even though you and I are shut out of these gated land baronies, at least we can take pride in knowing that it’s our tax dollars that help the rich buy them… and lock the gates.